Everyday tasks can be a monumental challenge for someone with a hand tremor. Things we may take for granted — like reading, applying makeup or cleaning — may be too difficult for someone with an unsteady hand. Most frustrating of all is the difficulty in eating. But now, new technology originally designed to help soldiers in combat may improve the lives of people with hand tremors.
A new, high-tech spoon, called Liftware, can help to balance out the tremors and allow those who suffer from them — whether from Parkinson's or some other condition —to feed themselves. The Liftware spoon is fitted with a microcomputer and sensors such as those in a camera or cellphone that sense the direction and strength of a person's tremors and move in the opposite direction to soften the shake.
"Not being able to feed yourself or groom yourself — that takes a big emotional toll," said Anupam Pathak, CEO of Lift Labs, and the designer of the Liftware device.
The idea for the Liftware spoon came when Pathak was a doctorate student in engineering at the University of Michigan. He had been working on research to help stabilize military equipment for U.S. soldiers in the middle of combat, and wondered whether the technology could help patients with hand tremors.
The Liftware spoon is pricey, costing around $295. But for those who have been unable to feed themselves, the freedom to do so may be priceless.
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